If you’re planning on building a new deck or simply upgrading an old one there are many decking material choices to consider before making your final decision. When decks were first being built wood material like hardwood and cedar were almost the only options available. Since then synthetic materials like composites and PVC decking were developed to offer other options that last longer than traditional wood favorites and don’t require as much maintenance.
Although the new options for decking do cost more initially they do not have the added maintenance costs associated with wood decks so over time they will end up costing you less of an investment. For example, traditional wood decking for a 16×20-doot deck is around $2,000 while the same size deck made with composite decking material can cost upwards of $3,000. However, in order to keep traditional wood in good condition it has to be cleaned and resealed every year which can cost $100 if you do it yourself and more if you hire a professional while composite decking only needs a thorough cleaning every few years and just a good rinse and wipe down in between.
Decking Material Options
Pressure-treated wood is wood that has been treated with anti-rot and insecticide chemicals. It is a low-cost alternative to other decking material options and can last for decades once installed. Pressure-treated wood has to be refinished with a clear sealer or a stain every other year in order to keep it looking good.
Showing off the natural beauty of real wood cedar is unmatched among all the wood options available. It is easy and inexpensive to work with making it a great choice for those who like to do their projects on their own.
Another great wood option is hardwood because it is durable, fire-resistant, and resistant to decay. They make a great choice for homeowners who plan on adding features like ovens, fire pits and more that need strong decking material to hold them up. A great example of a hardwood that is both resistant to decay and fire-resistant is Kayu Bukit, that comes in a beautiful dark red that can weather to a silver gray over time if left unsealed.
Polyvinyl chloride decking more commonly referred to as PVC decking is the newest addition to decking material options and is rapidly gaining momentum as a preferred material choice since it is pretty much as maintenance-free of a deck that you can find. They are long lasting with high-quality decking coming with a 25-year warranty and available in a variety of color options from white to brown with some like Trailways that can imitate the appearance of wood.
Composite decking is made of wood fiber that is combined with polyethylene. It is a low-maintenance material that comes in a wide range of textures and colors that mimic the appearance of real wood. They can also be designed in a variety of fashions since they can be heated up and bent into eye-catching designs. Like PVC decking, high quality composite decking is a low-maintenance option that comes with a 25-year warranty.
There are many options to securing your deck. The cheapest option is using deck screws which are easy to install and don’t corrode but these can leave pockmarks in your boards where water and debris can gather causing splintering. Clip-style hidden fasteners eliminate the issue of splintering but cost more than deck screws to install. A good low-cost hidden fastener option is Tiger Claw, a uniquely designed fastener that makes installation faster and easier.
New Options Now Available on the Market
Deck addition projects have seen an increase in popularity among many homeowners and with this increase in interest new options for decking material are being developed and used. Although they are relatively new and have yet to stand the test of time, these materials are good alternatives to consider:
- Aluminum Decking. Coming coated with polyurea to get rid of the sound of metal, keep it feeling cool to the touch, and to help with traction.
- Thermally Cured Wood Decking. This decking material is resistant to insects, fungus, and mold after a non-toxic heating and sealing treatment.
- Glass Infused Wood Decking. Infused via silica infusion and microwaving this decking material is extremely strong and low maintenance.
Choosing materials for your deck used to be easy because there was usually only one choice and that was wood. Today you can choose between different types of decking materials that fulfill a variety of purposes to help extend the life of your deck, reduce maintenance costs associated with your deck, and make sure your deck is safe and sound for use.